Cathedrale Chevet Lescar Modillons Pau Pyrenees Tourisme 1Cathedrale Chevet Lescar Modillons Pau Pyrenees Tourisme 1
©Cathedrale Chevet Lescar Modillons Pau Pyrenees Tourisme 1|Pau Pyrénées Tourisme / DG

Lescar Pilgrimage since the Middle Ages

West of Pau, Lescar… The ancient episcopal city is the setting for the Romanesque cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption. Founded on the site of the ancient Roman Beneharnum that gave its name to Béarn, the cathedral invites you to contemplate the Pyrenees mountain range. It’s an essential stopover on the via Tolosa, which pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela have been following for centuries! From Pau, a winding slope takes you back in time. After one or two sharp bends, the narrow streets lead you to the foot of the cathedral, surrounded by Béarn façades weathered by the weight of two-thousand years of history.

The Cathedral

Lescar was the first capital of Béarn in the Middle Ages. The cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption is its jewel. This is the resting place of the sovereigns of the Kingdom of Navarre, including Henri IV’s grandparents. In their honor, Lescar Cathedral boasts a wide variety of sculpted and painted medieval decorations. The nave also conceals a treasure trove of mosaics and a listed monumental organ.

A must-see! And if you drop by the Tourist Office opposite the cathedral, we’ll let you in on some of the secrets that will make your visit so exciting. Push open the heavy wooden entrance door and you’re inside the cathedral: imposing, slender and refined, it welcomes you in all its Romanesque roundness. Go on up to the apse, just a little further… and you’ll come face to face with one of the jewels of the building: the mosaics by Gui de Lons.

Mosaics at Le Maure

This 12th-century marvel emerged from the past during renovation work in 1838. The hunter with the olive, wild beasts and other wild animals illustrate two medieval hunting scenes. The highlight of this masterpiece is the mysterious mosaic of the “little Moorish hunter”. Legend has it that the protagonist, captured in Saragossa during the Reconquista, lost a foot. He is depicted wearing a wooden leg and carrying out his hunting and archery activities without embarrassment… This is the oldest known representation of a prosthesis in the West! Now the emblem of Lescar, the one-legged Moor is the star of the venerable building!

Dominus Guido episcopus Lascurensis hoc fieri fecit pavimentum”.
Seigneur Gui, bishop of Lescar, had this pavement made.

The ramparts and the bishop's palace Gallo-Roman foundations

On the south side of the Place Royale stands the presbytery tower. Once through the wooden gate, the narrow staircase leads to the city’s southern ramparts. This is the oldest part of the town, whose foundations date back to the 1st century, to the time of the ancient Gallo-Roman Bénéharnum below. Restored many times over the centuries, these ramparts have protected the town’s development.

Pause and contemplate: the Pyrenees are right in front of you, while the peace and gentle nature of Lescar’s delightful terrace garden soothe your senses.

On the road to Santiago de Compostela

Lescar is located on the Via Tolosa and has always offered shelter to pilgrims. It is also a starting point for hikers.

Coming to Lescar
  • By bus (approx. 30-40 min.) from Pau train station
  • By car (20 min.).
  • By bike (30 min.) on the loop from the Gave de Pau to Lescar.
Emmaus Village

The Emmaüs village is a place in its own right, where you can hunt for recycled objects, take part in workshops or enjoy a meal. A festival is organized every summer.

When it rains

In Lescar, the Wright brothers opened the first aviation and flying school. Parachute enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Musée des Parachutistes.

A museum with a prestigious history

Nestled in the former cellars of the bishop’s palace, the museum houses a collection of archaeological objects dating from the Bronze Age to Antiquity. Works of art and everyday objects bear witness to the intense activity of the ancient city.

Cross the Place de l’Évêché, whose innocuous appearance conceals a glorious past: here, the episcopal palace stood proudly in the 14th century. Destroyed during the French Revolution, a few scattered ruins remain: the remains of the imposing watchtower, the prison and its dungeon, still visible today, and the old staircase tower attached to the palace.

On the ground, four Merovingian sarcophagi bear silent witness to this history.

Barnabite College

In Lescar, you’ll also find the former Collège des Barnabites. Today, it’s the public, secular “Jacques Monod” high school in the large 17th-century canons’ park.